DCB: Chequers is on runway, SuperCanada taking off - let's accept Brexit offer

David Campbell Bannerman is a Conservative Member of the European Parliament.

I was surprised to hear from a UK Ambassador recently that the EU had not put a deal on the table and that the only deal on the table officially was Chequers. Other government briefings and media statements have emphasised that the EU needs to make a ‘counter proposal’ to Chequers. It seems President Tusk just did.

He tweeted: “From the very beginning, the EU offer has been a Canada+++ deal. Much further-reaching on trade, internal security and foreign policy cooperation. This is a true measure of respect. And this offer remains in place.”

I hugely welcome this – it is the SuperCanada Trade deal I have been arguing for for two and a half years plus aspects of the sort of strategic partnership the EU has agreed with Canada, Australia (Framework Agreement) and New Zealand (Parc).

This is not the ‘simple trade deal’ that Theresa May rejected in her Conference speech – it is deeper, wider and broader than Canada’s CETA – Tusk’s “further reaching”. And Tusk makes clear it is still on the table as an offer.

This counts as a ‘counter proposal’ – whether it was there on 7th March, when he said “I propose we aim for a trade agreement covering all sectors and with zero tariffs on goods (that’s one +). Like other free trade agreements, it should address services (a second +; deeper services a third +). I hope that it will be ‘ambitious and advanced’ or not is immaterial now. The offer was restated on 2nd August with public procurement services added as an example of cooperation.

The offer is still there and it’s live. I commend President Tusk and Mr. Barnier for proposing the best ever trade deal they have ever done to date (and I’ve worked on a few over nearly 10 years on the international trade committee including Canada). This is the best basis of a deal and one endorsed by Brexiteers such as Jacob Rees Mogg and Boris Johnson, who I am grateful too for supporting ‘SuperCanada’ at Conference as well as the EU. It therefore has the best chance of support through both the Westminster and European Parliaments.

With the clock ticking and the papers soon to go out for the EU Council meeting I am really optimistic we can get such a deal.

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This is an excellent offer. We must now accept Chequers is stuck on the runway, but SuperCanada is lifting off.